The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 26, 2013

New Impala tops sedans in Consumer Reports tests

DETROIT (AP) — The first American sedan in 20 years to earn Consumer Reports top score is the Chevrolet Impala. Really.

The magazine has ranked the completely reworked 2014 version of the full-size car as its top U.S. sedan, based on ride, handling, quality of materials and other factors. It's the first time in two decades that a domestic brand has beaten cars from Germany and Japan.

For the Impala, it's quite a comeback. The previous version of the car was more commonly found on rental car lots than in suburban garages. Even longtime Impala fans didn't want one. Three years ago, Consumer Reports described the car's ride as "unsettled" and "nervous."

The redesigned Impala, which began arriving at dealers in April, scored 95 out of 100 points in the magazine's testing to get an "Excellent" rating. That put it ahead of traditional large car competitors like the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300. The Impala even outscored high-end luxury sedans such as the Audi A6 and Lexus LS460.

With that ranking, the Impala's starting price of $27,000 seems like a bargain. The Audi costs about $15,000 more. For the Lexus' base price of almost $72,000, you can buy two Impalas and have change left over.

Owners of those luxury cars may wonder if the magazine's testers got the cars mixed up.

"We're going to have to have everyone withhold their judgment until they drive one," said Jake Fisher, chief auto tester at Consumer Reports.

The Impala's performance is another sign of the three Detroit automakers' renaissance, Fisher said. All three companies nearly collapsed into financial ruin four years ago, partly because of their reputation for shoddy cars.

"We've seen a number of redesigned American models — including the Chrysler 300, Ford Escape and Fusion, and Jeep Grand Cherokee — deliver world-class performance in our tests," Fisher said.

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